Preserving Affordable Housing in a Rapidly Changing Market

While it is no surprise that the supply of affordable housing in New York City is dwindling, what is truly stunning is the rate of the decline. According to a September 2018 report published by New York City’s comptroller, over 425,000 apartments renting for $900 or less (in 2017 dollars) disappeared from the city’s housing inventory between 2005 and 2017, leaving the city’s lowest-income households with fewer and fewer options for affordable housing.

At Leviticus, we recognize that access to high-quality affordable housing is essential for the creation of strong, sustainable communities, and we are committed to supporting affordable housing preservation. One of our newest loans illustrates well our effort.

A $430,000 construction loan is supporting renovations of two apartment buildings in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, a rapidly gentrifying community where affordable rentals have become scarce. The project is being undertaken by the Joint Ownership Entity NYC (JOE NYC), an innovative nonprofit corporation founded in 2016 to secure the long-term viability of nonprofit-run affordable housing and to secure new affordable housing development opportunities for local community development corporations (CDCs). JOE NYC currently has 11 nonprofit CDC members located in New York City and a real estate portfolio of 1,629 units across 19 projects.

The borrower for our loan is JOE RiseBoro Harman Street LLC, a new entity formed by JOE NYC specifically for the Brooklyn project. JOE RiseBoro plans to renovate the two apartment buildings built in 1931—a four-story, 12-unit walk-up and a three-story, six-unit walk-up. Our capital will finance a variety of maintenance and repair projects, including renovating bathrooms and repairing fire escapes, gutters and downspouts, and interior drywall. Additional funding from various city agencies will enable JOE RiseBoro to make more extensive capital repairs.

Altogether, our loan will help preserve 18 units of affordable housing in Brooklyn—a modest number in light of the urgent need for housing, but a great blessing to the tenants who will have the opportunity to occupy those apartments for years to come.